Finding the human story in the Mumbai hotel terrorist attacks – new film

One Less God

One Less God is the “inside the people inside the hotel” movie of the terrorist attack on the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Mumbai, where 166 died in November 2008.

This is equally tough to watch and impossible to stop watching, as it deftly moves from the outside world of news to the inside of the hotel and we lose any sense of time or media as we focus on both ends of the gun – the terrorists and their victims.

The film by first-time writer/director Lliam Worthington is unashamedly teaching us about the importance of humanity and compassion, and that people of all kinds can and should find a way to live together.

onelessgodKabir Singh as one of the two key terrorists delivers a human performance in an inhuman role – and we see his inner conflict as he tries to stop killing but cannot find another way. Only top direction and acting can make us feel almost that he, like his victims, is stuck and cannot escape.

It is one of over 60 films to screen at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne, from 10-22 August 2018.


The diversity of the cast in this Australian independent film industry movie underlines the central message of the film – humanity above race, religion or other belief.

It is hard to forget the voices of the terrorists as they go from room to room in the hotel, knocking on doors and in chillingly gentle tones saying: “Come out – we help you”.


This film is gritty, dirty, bloody and smoky, and is also an important reminder of how much terrorism India has experienced, with much of it unknown in the west.


Australia’s ‘An India Economic Strategy to 2035’ No. 4 – more focus needed on cross-cultural understanding

It is true that the “An India Economic Strategy to 2035” did acknowledge the importance of culture, but I would have liked to see much more focus on it. There is nothing bigger keeping us apart.

Cultural misunderstanding is at the core of our lack of trade and diplomatic connectivity with India.


The importance of cross-cultural understanding is not about focusing on “difference” – it is about knowing what those differences are so we can then ADAPT our behavior, further, cross-cultural analysis is not claiming one view to be right and the other wrong.

Consider what the academics call “absolutism vs relativism” – we in the west are absolutist so we place all our energy on contracts, project plans and we never like surprises. India is a relativist culture, so it knows things can only be defined relatively, and whatever we decide upon will change as life inevitably changes. You can see how these two differing world views create problems for us.

The absolutist thinker puts rules above relationships – while the relativist thinker places relationship way above rules. Knowing this, we can adapt.

Also look at western “individualist” culture and compare with India”s “collectivist” culture. The west empowers individuals to make decisions, whereas in a collective culture decisions are made by the group and can take more time. Not such a problem when you understand it.Holi3

Plus consider that the west is called a “specific” culture while India is “diffuse”. What does this mean? The westerner is direct, open and always in a rush – cannot stay for dinner. The Indian prefers to be indirect, works around an issue rather than confronting it, takes time, wants you to stay for dinner and never says “no” even when that is the right answer, preferring the often misunderstood “I will try”.

With these differences and many more, if we train westerners to understand and ADAPT to the difference, we face much better prospects of success.

Cultural differences (without adapting) are coming between Australia and India – if we change this, we change the relationship for the better.


Australia’s ‘An India Economic Strategy to 2035’ No. 3 – why creating forums can be a waste of time

I am not a big fan of “CEO Forums” as an instrument of diplomacy or trade. Most of them are a formality, many attendees are pressured to be there and there is no natural energy. Good business arises when there is natural energy.

But the report “An India Economic Strategy to 2035” clearly loves them, and it called for a new CEO Forum and several other top level meetings to be created.

I could not see anywhere in the report where it actually asked if India wants these forums.

Nor could I see much in the track record of the Business Council of Australia (which the report nominates as the organiser of the forum) to suggest they have a deep interest in India at all.

What is the alternative?

Some of my best networking and business experiences in India have happened when I have attended a local Indian event – run by CII, FICCI, various universities and some city chambers of commerce.

In a collective culture such as India, going to a locally run event is your invitation into the collective, you can see first hand how it operates and find your own place. Indians love you turning up and appreciate the respect it shows. Networking becomes dynamic and business doors open to you.

Much better than a formal, imposed Australian CEO Forum idea.

This cultural point is central to my views – an Australian-created CEO Forum occurs “outside of the Indian collective” and although they will turn up, you are missing a key opportunity to be accepted into that collective – which of course is when you really do business.

Where a forum is a natural consequence of a growing trade relationship, then I am all for it – but creating one when there is no natural base for it could be a waste of time.

Let’s create a global Indian diaspora event in Australia

Modern Indians are becoming global tourists and Australia should strive to be in the top four destinations. There was a 10 per cent increase in visa applications from India in 2017 at 4.7 million compared to 4.3 million applications in 2016, according to data compiled by VFS Global.

The top five destinations for which visa applications were processed (in 2016 and 2017) were – the US, Malaysia, the UK, Canada and China, according to the data. The report said visa applications for Thailand witnessed the sharpest increase in 2017 compared to 2016.

Australia has a lot to attract Indian tourists – time to get the message into the Indian market.

Why not start by creating a global Indian diaspora event in Australia? Innovative thinking works, and the Indian diaspora here could be part of the active marketing program.



Australia’s ‘An India Economic Strategy to 2035’ No. 2 – GST and E-way creating huge demand for services

I would have liked the “India Economic Strategy to 2035” to focus more on how the introduction of the GST and the transport E-way system is creating all kinds of new business demands in India.

In particular, Indian businesses are now being driven towards massive business process improvements. Service providers in this plus tax plus logistics are in big demand.

The GST was cited as the biggest tax change in history. Associated with it is the E-way which is electronic documentation detailing the movement of goods exceeding Rs50,000 in value.

Goods out of the e-way bill’s ambit include perishable items such as meat, milk and milk products and fruits and vegetables. Other items that don’t need an e-way bill are gold and silver jewellery, cooking gas cylinders, raw silk, wool and handlooms.

The e-way bill is a key anti-tax evasion measure and is a crucial part of the GST architecture.

The transformation coming from these reforms is huge. The previous state border taxes led many companies to have production and warehousing where they otherwise would not make sense, so now the opportunity is for great efficiency.

Helping Indian business cope with the GST and E-way bills, and then achieve the business process transformation opportunity arising from them should be a big target for Australian consultants and providers.

Where Australia’s ‘An India Economic Strategy to 2035’ missed the point No. 1 – the threat to education is real

Australia finally has ‘An India Economic Strategy to 2035’ which is a good thing, with trade now declining to around A$14 billion.

A big part of that trade is education, with Indians big users of our universities and colleges.

The strategy mentions “visa employment conditions” as a potential threat – it should have been stronger. Changing visa conditions have had the intended consequence of employers now being uncertain and scared to offer employment to overseas graduates.

This is bad for Australia long term. Australian governments have one department discouraging Indian students (immigration) and the rest of the country hoping we can get more – time for the government to step in.

But even worse is that Indian graduates are not prepared for employment in Australia – and the report missed this key point. Their CV’s are not up to scratch, their English is difficult to understand, few have learnt presentation skills and their self descriptions often miss out their most attractive employment qualities. From our pilot study we know that these things can be quickly fixed, giving Indians a real chance of getting the jobs they want.

If this employment mismatch continues, we will have thousands of Indian graduates of Australian universities taking unskilled jobs – and word will get back to India – “don’t come to study in Australia because you will not be offered a job”. 

The report did call for our universities and businesses to work together to provide employment for students while they study – this is good. But the report made no mention of how unemployable these students are when sitting opposite corporate recruiters.

Missing this point was a big miss by the report. In addition to fixing the visa debacle, the government urgently needs to call the universities in, demanding a solution on employability skills.

Otherwise our trade will decline even further.

Australia finally has a strategy to build relations with India – but detail and time will tell

At last! Australia has ‘An India Economic Strategy to 2035’ — let’s hope this will have an impact and lead to change.

The strategy document noted that current trade with India is around $15 billion – it should have lamented this as a pathetic failure of previous initiatives. In contrast, current trade with China is $200 billion.

The report talks about several priority areas but only time will tell if the detail and approaches are right.

It misses on not placing enough emphasis on cross-cultural understanding. This is Australia’s biggest failing and underpins our poor outcomes with India – we just cannot talk to each other in a way we both understand.

The report also misses some strategic points – while it talks about declining US power in the region it could acknowledge that India has never understood our close alliance with the US. Nor does India have Australia’s (US based) global focus that we have to boost democracy etc. India is far more accepting of the world as it is. To know this is to have better diplomatic (and trade) relations.

It is also light on detail about how to benefit from the reach and connections of the 700,000 or so Indians who have migrated to Australia. But further focus and research will no doubt come from the report.

I really like that the report noted the Indian opportunities for Australia “would not fall into its lap and that the government would require a sharper national focus on India, an unambiguous commitment by Australian business and a deeper understanding by both government and business of the magnitude of what is unfolding in an Indian market place which will only get more crowded”.

More to come…

Indian economy muscles past France

India has jumped to the world’s sixth largest economy according to figures from the World Bank.

India’s GDP was $2.597 trillion as the economy rebounded from the slowdown caused by demonetisation and tax changes.

India is also poised to become the world’s most populous nation with 1.34 billion people – and still growing fast as one of the youngest nations.

This population is part of the reason for economic success – the so-called “demographic dividend” of a young population is paying off with local consumer demand being the major driver and India has been able to find the skilled workforce for a growing manufacturing sector.Prayer2

This is a huge achievement with India more than doubling its GDP in less than a decade.

The experts believe India will soon overtake the fifth biggest economy, Britain, as the rise to the top continues.

Mumbai airport first to offer fully automated check-in

Airlines operating out of the Terminal 1 (T1) of the Mumbai airport now provide self-bag drop (SBD) facility to passengers, making it the only terminal with such a fully-automated check-in system.mumbaiself2

The airport operator has also extended the check-in facility to a host of five-star hotels in the city, enabling the passengers to collect their boarding passes from the hotel itself.mumbaiself4

All the airlines operating out of T1 of the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) are now on SBD facility, making T1 the only terminal in the country to have a fully-automated check-in system.

Mumbai International Airport Ltd, which runs the Mumbai airport, is the joint venture company between a GVK-led consortium and the Airports Authority of India.

In June this year air traffic numbers increased around 20% on the previous year – signs of strong economic growth.